Mario Kart 64 was re-released on the Wii U yesterday like a terrifying juggernaut from the past. It’s actually a flawed entry in the series, despite the game having a legion of fans since its release in 1997 (in the UK – 1996 elsewhere). It followed on from the legendary Super Mario Kart on the SNES (released in 1992) but this time around boasted 64-bit graphical power and, oh my cripes, the arrival of the now notorious blue shell!
As you can expect with Nintendo, Mario Kart 64 is wonderful, charming, and packed full of entertainment value, but it didn’t deliver the outright masterpiece we were expecting. Despite this, it was one of the most celebrated games on the N64 thanks largely to the multiplayer options which have since become legendary amongst gamers. Let’s take a trip down memory lane with this awesomeness.
Mario Kart 64
For those of you who haven’t got a clue what Mario Kart is all about, it’s one of the most acclaimed games series going. Simply put, it’s what video games are all about. It’s quite impossible to emphasise how perfect a formula it is: take Nintendo’s beloved games characters, stick them in go-karts, and race for glory!
Mario Kart 8 IS the sweeping masterpiece of the franchise, but for a long while Mario Kart 64 was the most played game in the series by Mr. Wapojif. First off, let’s just say the good things are as follows: excellent traction design, relentless fun, non-stop action, and the multiplayer modes. The latter allowed friends to take each other on with four N64 pads, creating endless hilarity and furious fist shaking.
It’s a type of multiplayer action which is now, sadly, missing from the games industry. The Nintendo Wii went some way to redress this, but on the whole multiplayer action takes place in solitude as one sits connected to the internet playing. You don’t get the social element anymore, although the experience is much more streamlined and immersive these days.
As for the bad stuff – the game’s too easy. You can complete it on the hardest difficulty setting with no problems, and there aren’t exactly many tracks. Back in 1997, once a game was released that was it in terms of its content and performance. These days, thank you internet, developers thump out DLC (downloadable content) and bug fixes to smooth out the performance.
The game hasn’t aged brilliantly, and anyone coming to it for the first time won’t be impressed, but its legacy will live on with stubbed toenail and all. Simply put, the world would be a lot worse off without this thing.
The Blue Shell
Mario Kart 64 brought the blue shell kicking and screaming into the world with bitterness, acrimony, and outright unfairness! This thing is usually gathered by players in dead last, and it homes in on the 1st placed racer.
In recent years, this has been an unparalleled SOB on the Wii and Wii U titles where Mr. Wapojif, and millions of others, has lost dozens of race wins thanks to its efforts. In Mario Kart 64 it’s strangely ineffective and only acts as a minor nuisance. Harrumph!
The track is excellent in Mario Kart 64, even if the physics engine isn’t quite up to scratch to make the most of it. The series has its equivalent of the motorsport world’s Nurburgring (the notorious 24 miler which brought death and destruction at only the slightest mistake) – it’s Rainbow Road.
In the SNES original it’s a flat out, tight track which takes nerves of steel, and since then the track’s made an appearance in every incarnation to act as the ultimate skill test.
Except in Mario Kart 64, where it’s an endurance marathon. It’s the biggest track in the game, and it’s also the most boring and consists of going around for seven solid minutes. In Mario Kart 8 this course has been entirely revamped and players only complete a single lap in a flat-out, mad bastard dash to the flag, so the track has come full circle. Which is nice.
Finally, we must mention Bowser’s Castle. This hasn’t made it to the Wii U edition yet, but for us it’s the most perfect Mario Kart circuit which has ever been invented. We love it, and we’re going to force our opinion on you as fact from here on in. Bless!